In the revised version of his book Stealing Elections, John Fund claims that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now “runs something called 'Camp Obama,' which trains campaign volunteers in the same tactics that Obama honed as a community organizer.” In the “Notes” section of the book, Fund attributes this assertion to a Chicago Sun-Times article, but the article does not link “Camp Obama” to ACORN -- indeed, it does not mention ACORN at all. Moreover, “Camp Obama” reportedly was established and run by the Obama campaign.
On Page 61 of the “revised and updated” version of his book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund claims that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) “runs something called 'Camp Obama,' which trains campaign volunteers in the same tactics that [Sen. Barack] Obama honed as a community organizer.” In the “Notes” section of the book, Fund attributes this assertion to a September 4, 2007, Chicago Sun-Times article. However, the Sun-Times article Fund cites does not link “Camp Obama” to ACORN -- indeed, it does not mention ACORN at all. Moreover, other news reports have indicated that “Camp Obama” was established and run by the Obama campaign.
Additionally, on Pages 50-51 of Stealing Elections, Fund notes that seven ACORN workers were indicted in Seattle in 2007 for submitting more than 1,700 voter registration forms that were found to be fraudulent, many of which bore the names of celebrities or “nonexistent people.” Fund writes on Page 50: “Given that the state doesn't require the showing of any identification before voting, it is entirely possible that people could have voted illegally using some of those names.” But Fund cites on Page 51 a July 7, 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer article that flatly contradicts his suggestion that the fraudulent registrations were used to cast votes. According to the Post-Intelligencer, "[N]o votes were cast based on the more than 1,760 fraudulent registrations submitted by workers for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, interim Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said."
As Media Matters for America documented when Stealing Elections was first published in 2004, the book contains several distortions and half-truths that undermine Fund's claim that Democrats “figure prominently in the vast majority of examples of election fraud described in this book.” As Media Matters documented, Fund misrepresented sources he purported to cite and made thinly sourced allegations that were contradicted by contemporaneous news accounts.
Fund wrote in Page 61 of the revised version of Stealing Elections:
ACORN also runs something called “Camp Obama,” which trains campaign volunteers in the same tactics that Obama honed as a community organizer. “We want you to stop thinking about Barack Obama and be Barack Obama,” is how ACORN's Jocelyn Woodards sums up the two-day training program for applicants. Another program, called the Obama Organizing Fellows, is designed to train people in how to “organize in a community, working in conjunction with grassroots leaders and campaign staff.” [Community organizer Jerry] Kellman has said that the Obama campaign uses elements of both the practical and aggressive Alinsky method, and the visionary “movement” style that Obama himself now emphasizes.
On Page 220, in the “Notes” section, Fund attributed this claim to the Chicago Sun-Times:
61 ACORN also runs something called -- Chicago Sun-Times, September 4, 2007.
In fact, the September 4, 2007, Sun-Times article on “Camp Obama” makes no mention of ACORN.
Other news reports indicate that “Camp Obama” is a creation of the Obama campaign and is run by Obama campaign staffers. Sun-Times Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet wrote in a May 3, 2007, article:
Intent on not repeating problems of past presidential campaigns -- and leveraging the proximity of Illinois to neighboring Iowa -- the Illinois Obama operation is:
- Organizing sister city programs. One getting off the ground is between Illinois communities and Iowa. For example, Obama backers who live in Evanston or the Lake View neighborhood on the North Side would be assigned precincts to get to know in Cedar Rapids
- Training volunteers to canvass voters -- which means shoe-leather door knocking to find out whom a registered voter supports, leans toward, or wants to know more about.
Obama canvassers will be fanning out across the country -- including Iowa -- in June. The idea is not to have strangers making calls and house visits but to use all the social networking tools available to make real people-to-people sustained connections.
- Building networks for low-dollar fund-raising.
- Opening an office in the Loop where volunteers can come, work and just hang out.
- Creating Camp Obama. No, there's not going to be cabins with bunks. But it will be in Chicago. Camp Obama is a training program -- run by campaign professionals -- being launched by the campaign. People who do well in the four-day training will be put in the pipeline for internships and paid jobs. Training topics will include canvassing, phone banking and recruiting volunteers. Camp Obama applications can be found at www.barackobama.com.
National Public Radio reported on June 13, 2007:
Welcome to Camp Obama. It's a camp for adults -- mostly young adults and college students -- who are hoping to hone their political skills and learn the basics of organizing for a certain barnstorming presidential candidate.
“Barack Obama is inspiring a new generation of people to come in, and a lot of people have not been involved in the political process before,” says Hans Riemer, national youth vote director for the Obama campaign. “We are training them, teaching them how to be effective, showing them what their role is in our strategy to win the election ... We're taking people from raw enthusiasm to capable organizers.”
All campaigns rely heavily on volunteers to carry the candidate's message and do much of the campaign grunt work. And all campaigns spend a significant amount of time and money training volunteers to be more effective. But Riemer says the Obama campaign is trying something different in order to capitalize on the huge number of young people expressing an interest in the Illinois Democratic senator's run for the White House, a demographic that Reimer says campaigns usually ignore or view as unreliable on Election Day.
“Historically, campaigns have looked at young people as the hardest demographics to mobilize,” he says. “In reality, if you know what you're doing, they can be one of the easiest to mobilize.”
On Pages 50-51, Fund writes:
One of the most serious cases involving ACORN came out of Seattle, where prosecutors in July 2007 indicted seven ACORN workers. They were accused of submitting phony registration forms in what Washington's secretary of state, Sam Reed, called “the worst case of voter-registration fraud” in the state's history. (Three of the seven pleaded guilty later that year.) The list of “voters” registered in Washington included former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, New York Times columnists Frank Rich and Tom Friedman, and actress Katie Holmes, as well as nonexistent people with nonsensical names such as Stormi Bays and Fruto Boy. The addresses used for the fake names were local homeless shelters. Given that the state doesn't require the showing of any identification before voting, it is entirely possible that people could have voted illegally using some of those names.
Local officials refused to accept the registrations because they had been delivered after the 2006 registration deadline of October 7. Initially, ACORN officials demanded that the registrations be accepted and threatened to sue King County (Seattle) officials if they were tossed out. But in early November 2006 - just after four ACORN registration workers were indicted on charges of fraud in Kansas City, Missouri - the group reversed its position and said the registrations should be rejected. But by then, local election workers had a reason to scrutinize the forms carefully, and they uncovered the fraud. Of the 1,805 names submitted by ACORN, over 97 percent were found to be invalid.
The King County prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, said that in lieu of charging ACORN itself as part of the registration fraud case, he worked out an agreement by which the group paid $25,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation and formally agree to tighten supervision of its activities, which Satterberg said were plagued by “lax oversight.”
On Page 219, Fund attributes his claims to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
51 The King County prosecutor -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 27, 2007.
The Post-Intelligencer, however, reported that Satterberg said the fraudulent registration forms had not been used to cast votes, despite Fund's suggestion to the contrary:
Workers for an activist group's voter-registration drive made up names of voters, forged signatures and submitted phony forms to elections officials last fall, King County prosecutors said Thursday in announcing indictments of four men and three women in the case.
“This is the worst case of voter-registration fraud in the history of the state of Washington,” Secretary of State Sam Reed said at a news conference.
But the scheme had nothing to do with an attempt to manipulate elections and everything to do with the workers' efforts to keep their $8-an-hour jobs, prosecutors said.
In fact, no votes were cast based on the more than 1,760 fraudulent registrations submitted by workers for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, interim Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said.
“The defendants cheated their employers to get paid for work they did not actually perform,” Satterberg said. “The defendants simply realized that making up names was easier than actually canvassing the streets.”
The workers would gather at the downtown Seattle library and confect bogus voter identities by pulling names, telephone numbers and other information from telephone directories, newspapers and baby-name books, by combining names or merely by inventing entries, according to documents in the case. For a majority of the registrations, the workers wrote in the addresses of homeless shelters, prosecutors said.
Among the names submitted were those of Dennis Hastert, a former speaker of the U.S. House; Alcee Hastings, a Democratic congressman from Florida; John McKay, former U.S. attorney in Seattle; Frank Rich and Thomas Friedman, columnists for the New York Times; Veronica Mars, a character in a television show; Katie Holmes and Anthony Perkins, movie actors; and several sports figures, including New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, former heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks, and current or former Seattle Sonics Johan Petro, Vin Baker, Danny Fortson and Mickael Gelabale (shown in documents as Gelbale).